04:22 PM EDT 08/29/2014


Connecticut School Shooting

Life After Newtown Shooting: Families Share Their Stories

Originally posted 04/03/2013 05:00PM

They still reach for little hands that are no longer there. They dream of their warm hugs, hoping not to wake up.

For parents of the 20 first-graders from Sandy Hook Elementary School whose lives were cruelly cut short on Dec. 14 their grief knows no bounds.

"We've been given an impossible life to live," says Jessica Rekos's mother Krista. "I don't know how to live my life without my little girl."

At home, many of their siblings keep their memories alive. Daniel Barden's sister, Natalie, is keeping a journal of stories for her brother. Josephine Gay's two older sisters look through old videos to listen to her laugh.

And when Noah Pozner's sister, Sophia, recently put together a Lego spaceship, she announced: "Noah helped me put it together."

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Credit: Google/AP
Sandy Hook Killer's Home Contained Large Arsenal of Weapons

Sandy Hook Killer's Home Contained Large Arsenal of Weapons

Originally posted 03/28/2013 11:40AM

Sadness and shock still continue to build over the Dec. 14 Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in Newtown, Conn.

After a three-month investigation, the state prosecutor overseeing the case said Thursday that Adam Lanza, 20, murdered 26 people within five minutes of storming into the school before turning a gun on himself. Wednesday night state police night briefed families of the victims on what was recovered from Lanza's home and car, among other findings.

Among the chilling inventory, reports The New York Times, were a large array of ammunition and weapons that included rifles, knives and samurai swords, as well as damaged computer equipment, journals and a newspaper clipping of a school shooting at Northern Illinois University.

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Credit: Alessandra Petlin; Inset: REX USA
Tony Lusardi III Struggles to Move on After Losing Girlfriend in Sandy Hook Shooting

Tony Lusardi III Struggles to Move on After Losing Lauren Rousseau in Sandy Hook Shooting

Originally posted 03/03/2013 11:00AM

Initially it was Lauren Rousseau's smile that caught Tony Lusardi III's attention on a dating website. He sent her a jokey message, she sent a "ha-ha-ha" back, and a month later they had their first date at a wine bar.

"We hit it off right off the bat," says Lusardi, 30, a sales rep for a tech company. "I am a giant, awkward nerd when I first meet people, but at one point I said, 'Can I kiss you?' " Rousseau, 30, a substitute elementary school teacher, turned red and said, "Yes." When their lips locked, says Lusardi, "I knew she was perfect for me. I thought, 'She's the one.' "

About five weeks later, they made it Facebook official: They were "in a relationship." Young, smitten and feeling they had all the time in the world, 13 months later they were just beginning to hatch plans to move out of their respective parents' homes. "We were thinking we would move in together, get a dachshund – we wanted to name it Pork Chop – and see what happened."

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Credit: Nigel Parry
Gabby Giffords to Meet Privately with Sandy Hook Families | Gabrielle Giffords

Gabby Giffords to Meet Privately with Sandy Hook Families

Originally posted 01/04/2013 08:00AM

Gabrielle Giffords, the former member of Congress from Arizona who was gunned down at a Tucson shopping center two years ago – and then courageously fought to recover from her injuries – will meet privately Friday with the families of the Sandy Hook school in Newtown, Conn.

The event will be held at a private home and is not open to the public.

Giffords, 42, sharing a Facebook post from her husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly, after the Dec. 14 school shootings, said that the time was now to begin a national dialogue on strengthening gun control. This week, she and Kelly met with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a staunch gun-control proponent, on the issue.

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Credit: Lucas Jackson/Landov
Sandy Hook Students Return to Classes at New School

Connecticut School Shootings

Sandy Hook Students Return to Classes at New School on Thursday

Originally posted 01/02/2013 11:05AM

When Sandy Hook students return to a new school on Thursday, they will find their setting looking nearly exactly like their previous classrooms, right down to the pictures on the walls.

Before the move, some teachers even took photos of their old classrooms at Sandy Hook to better prepare their new classrooms and offer frightened and traumatized students some comfort as they try to get back to normal after the Dec. 14 shootings that left 27 people dead, including their beloved principal Dawn Hochsprung, ABC News reports.

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Credit: Shannon Hicks/Newtown Bee/Reuters/Landov
How to Cope with the Sandy Hook Shootings

Sandy Hook Shootings: How to Cope

Originally posted 12/23/2012 06:00PM

The Sandy Hook massacre, in which 20 innocent children and six heroic elementary school faculty members were gunned down last Friday, is particularly difficult for people – even those thousands of miles away from Newtown, Conn. – to process, according to mental health experts.

"This tragedy is so deeply affecting the national psyche, reminding us of 9/11, because of its assault on Norman Rockwell's vision of America," psychiatrist Carole Lieberman tells PEOPLE.

Friday was proclaimed a national day of mourning for those lost a week ago, with a moment of silence called for at 9:30 a.m. Eastern time, as 26 churchbells rang in Newtown and elsewhere. In addition, First Lady Michelle Obama sent an open letter of condolence to the town, saying the entire nation "is holding you in our hearts."

But how do those directly involved with the tragedy find the strength to cope?

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Credit: Courtesy Jen Maksel
Inside Story: How Bryce Maksel Escaped School Shooting with Four Others

Bryce Maksel's Mom Tells How He and Four Others Ran from Shooter

Originally posted 12/21/2012 07:00PM

Jen Maksel knows she's one of the lucky ones. Her 7-year-old son, Bryce, escaped last Friday's carnage by fleeing hero teacher Vicki Soto's classroom when the gunman looked away. But that doesn't mean it's been easy. Her son lost three of his best friends, several classmates and two of his beloved teachers that day.

"I'm completely exhausted," she tells PEOPLE this week as Newtown, Conn., sees funeral after funeral, tiny coffin after tiny coffin. "It's just so sad."

Last Friday morning Maksel, 42, was just drifting off to sleep after working an overnight shift then putting her kids on the bus when her phones began ringing off the hook. Before she could answer them, a neighbor began pounding on her front door yelling, "There's a school shooting at Sandy Hook!"

She jumped in her car and headed to the school.

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Credit: Howard Simmons/NY Daily News/Getty
Michelle Obama Tells Newtown the Nation Is 'Holding You in Our Hearts'

Michelle Obama Tells Newtown the Nation Is 'Holding You in Our Hearts'

Originally posted 12/21/2012 09:00AM

As another day of painful funerals is scheduled to take place on Friday, seven days after the tragedy that took the lives of 20 children and six educators at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., First Lady Michelle Obama is telling the community there that the entire nation is "holding you in our hearts."

"As a mother of two young daughters, my heart aches for you and your families. Like so many Americans, I wish there were something – anything – I could do or say to ease your anguish," Mrs. Obama states in an open letter published in Friday's Hartford Courant.

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Credit: Scott Gries for People.com
Diem Brown Suggests One Way to Help Newtown Cope: 'Become Their Advocate' | Diem Brown

Celebrity Blog

Diem Brown's Response to Newtown Tragedy: Be an Advocate for Change!

Originally posted 12/20/2012 11:30AM

In her PEOPLE.com blog, Diem Brown, the Real World/Road Rules Challenge contestant recently diagnosed with ovarian cancer for the second time, opens up about her desire for a child and the ups and downs of cancer and fertility procedures.

Watching a loved one go through a "hardship" makes you feel helpless; you want to fix their problem, heal their pain, alleviate their stress.

So we send flowers, cards, gift baskets, etc., to let them know they are always on our minds. We also participate in Race for the Cure-type events to show them we want to "fix" the hardship they are facing. You may still feel helpless to heal a loved one's pain, but you have shown you are with them in their fight. You have become their advocate.

Another type of helpless feeling comes from a story on the news, like the devastatingly tragic, almost-unbearable-to-read shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn.

You instantly feel pain and utter anguish inside as the inconceivable reality burns through your chest. You feel so deeply connected to the people affected by the devastation but you don't know how to help. You feel helpless.

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Simon Cowell Calls Sandy Hook Tribute the Hardest Thing He's Done on TV

Simon Cowell Calls Sandy Hook Tribute the Hardest Thing He's Done on TV

Originally posted 12/20/2012 10:05AM

It takes a lot to bring out Simon Cowell's softer side.

But the normally acerbic X Factor judge choked up Wednesday night as he introduced the show's emotional tribute to the Sandy Hook shooting victims – in what he later said was an extremely difficult moment for him.

"I would say it was the hardest thing I've ever had to do on TV in my life," Cowell, 53, said after the show, in which Carly Rose Sonenclar, Tate Stevens and Fifth Harmony made their final performances of the season.

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